Parents of special needs student upset the kids were sent home during tornado warning

STOCKBRIDGE, Mich. (WXYZ) - Ginger and Steve Paeschke are struggling to figure out why their 2-year-old autistic son, Gabriel, and other special needs kids were sent home from school while a tornado warning was in effect in southern Livingston County on Monday.

"You would never send anyone right into a storm," Ginger says. "That's essentially what they did. They sent a bus right into the storm path."

"We really want to know where the breakdown happened," says Steve Paeschke.

It happened after 3:00 p.m., at the end of the school day at Smith Elementary. That school is located in Stockbridge which is in Ingham County. There was no tornado warning in effect there.

Gabriel's bus was headed to Gregory, which is a few miles away in Livingston County. It's the same area where a funnel cloud was spotted on Monday.

The Paeschke's say while all the other kids at Smith Elementary were not allowed to leave, the special needs kids were sent home during the storm. They also say they had trouble getting answers from the district on the whereabouts of their son.

Gabriel and the other kids made it home safely, but his parents are still looking for answers.

Officials say the special needs kids ride buses operated by Dean Transportation, while the other kids ride buses operated by the district.

The owner of Dean Transportation tells 7 Action News that his drivers took the kids home after they got the "all clear" from the district.

The superintendent of Stockbridge Community Schools says Dean Transportation has its own protocols for severe weather, but says he is concerned about the communication between the company and the district.

He says he is looking into what happened and vows to get answers for the parents.

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